Feeling a like you’re trudging against the current of life? Do you wish you had just a little more energy, a little more inspiration, just a tad less pain in your body? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then you might be due for a chakra tune-up.
Chakras, the Sanskrit word for “wheels,” were conceived by the ancient yogis as spinning vortexes of colorful energy running along the spinal column from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. Each chakra has a corresponding color, element, quality, and sound, and associated body parts creating a bridge between the physical body and the more subtle realms of emotions, thoughts, and spirituality.
This may sound a bit esoteric, but we all speak in terms of energy without even thinking about it. We have “low energy” days. We may instinctively feel a “negative energy” with someone, or, on the flip side, be inspired by someone’s “positive energy.” In fact, as solid as we feel, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and the later invention of the atomic bomb demonstrated the vast amount of energy stored in matter.
In this vein, it makes sense that when our energy–or, in yoga parlance, “prana”– gets blocked, we experience physical, emotional and mental repercussions. Our joints may become stiff, our muscles sore. Perhaps these blocks manifest as a wrenched gut, a pain in the neck, or a throbbing head. Additionally, lethargy, dullness, self-loathing, poor communication, insomnia, anxiety, depression and difficulty focusing are all symptoms of pranic pinching. Yoga offers a systematic approach to clear obstructions in the chakras, allowing a steady stream of prana to flow through the vast energetic network of the body-mind complex.
Just as acupuncture uses needles to manipulate energy, yoga uses postures, breath, hand positions (“mudra”), sound (“mantra”) and visualization to tap into prana and chakras. Take the muladhara/root/first chakra, located at the base of the spine. This energetic center corresponds to the color red, the element earth, and the qualities of abundance, safety and stability. When this chakra is blocked, an individual may feel anxious, fearful and scattered. The muladhara chakra is associated with the adrenal glands, which are responsible for the “fight or flight” stress response.
Furthermore, the energy of this chakra nourishes the base of the pelvis, legs, bones, and the entire skeletal structure. Osteoporosis is an example of a first chakra issue, attacking the foundational structure of the human body. An obstructed root chakra also may manifest as binge eating rising out of deep sense of scarcity and the need to hoard. A yoga practice to open and nourish the first chakra will include grounding and long-held postures that wake up the feet, legs, and base of the body. Long slow breaths emphasizing the exhalation, visualizing the color red, and chanting the sound, “Lam” also activate the muladhara chakra.
Voice issues and thyroid problems are associated with the vishuddha/throat/fifth chakra. Located at the cervical spine (neck), it is related to the color blue, the element space, and the qualities of purification, listening and clear communication. The visshuddha chakra governs the entire neck and throat region as well as the thyroid gland, which regulates metabolism. A closed throat chakra can manifest as a sluggish metabolism, laryngitis, lost for words and quite literally, “choked up.” An overly open fifth chakra can show up as poor listening, overly talkative, or a revved-up metabolism. It should be noted here that we focus more on opening closed chakras as opposed to closing excessively open chakras. Over-active chakras are simply compensating for blocks in other chakras. For instance, a deficient heart chakra can lead to an excessive throat chakra. As pranic flow is resumed in restricted areas, the over-active chakras naturally adjust so that balance is restored throughout the entire chakra system.
A yoga practice to open and nourish the fifth chakra includes poses that naturally stretch the neck such as ustrasana (camel pose). Chanting is especially therapeutic for this region. “Hum” is the bija mantra (seed sound) for this chakra. Ujjayi breath is a practice that involves gently contracting the muscles around the vocal chords while breathing in and out of the nose, creating a soft “whisper” of breath. This gently massages the throat, stimulating the energy of the visshuddha chakra. Visualizing the color blue will further activate this center.
HEALING THROUGH THE CHAKRAS
While it is helpful to focus on individual chakras, it also is beneficial to move through a full yoga practice that includes a sequence of postures, breath work, sound, mudra and visualization to activate, balance, and integrate the entire chakra system.
This month, Zenergy is offering a series of such classes. “Healing Through the Chakras” will take place on Tuesdays, April 16, 23, and 30, from 5:30-6:45 pm. The fee is $20 for members and $25 for non-members. These are not physically active classes and are open to all abilities. To register online: YOGA CLINIC SCHEDULE & REGISTRATION. You may also call Zenergy Front Desk: 208-725-0595